William Lloyd Garrison (1805 - 1879) MP

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William Lloyd Garrison's Geni Profile

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Birthplace: Newburyport, Essex, Massachusetts, United States
Death: Died in New York, New York, New York, United States
Cause of death: Kidney disease
Managed by: John W. Buschman
Last Updated:

About William Lloyd Garrison

William Lloyd Garrison (December 13, 1805 – May 24, 1879) was a prominent American abolitionist, journalist, and social reformer. He is best known as the editor of the radical abolitionist newspaper The Liberator, and as one of the founders of the American Anti-Slavery Society, he promoted "immediate emancipation" of slaves in the United States. Garrison was also a prominent voice for the women's suffrage movement.

Career as a reformer

At age 25, Garrison joined the Abolition movement. For a brief time he became associated with the American Colonization Society, an organization that believed free blacks should immigrate to a territory on the west coast of Africa. Although some members of the society encouraged granting freedom to slaves, the majority saw the relocation as a means to reduce the number of free blacks in the United States and thus help preserve the institution of slavery. By late 1829–1830 "Garrison rejected colonization, publicly apologized for his error, and then, as was typical of him, he censured all who were committed to it." (William E. Cain, William Lloyd Garrison and the fight against Slavery: Selections from the Liberator)

Genius of Universal Emancipation

Garrison began writing for and became co-editor with Benjamin Lundy of the Quaker Genius of Universal Emancipation newspaper in Baltimore, Maryland. Garrison's experience as a printer and newspaper editor allowed him to revamp the layout of the paper and freed Lundy to spend more time traveling as an anti-slavery speaker. Garrison initially shared Lundy's gradualist views, but, while working for the Genius, he became convinced of the need to demand immediate and complete emancipation. Lundy and Garrison continued to work together on the paper in spite of their differing views, agreeing simply to sign their editorials to indicate who had written it.

One of the regular features that Garrison introduced during his time at the Genius was "The Black List," a column devoted to printing short reports of "the barbarities of slavery — kidnappings, whippings, murders." One of Garrison's "Black List" columns reported that a shipper from Garrison's home town of Newburyport, Massachusetts—one Francis Todd—was involved in the slave trade, and that he had recently had slaves shipped from Baltimore to New Orleans on his ship Francis. Todd filed a suit for libel against both Garrison and Lundy, filing in Maryland in order to secure the favor of pro-slavery courts. The state of Maryland also brought criminal charges against Garrison, quickly finding him guilty and ordering him to pay a fine of $50 and court costs. (Charges against Lundy were dropped on the grounds that he had been traveling and not in control of the newspaper when the story was printed.) Garrison was unable to pay the fine and was sentenced to a jail term of six months. He was released after seven weeks when the antislavery philanthropist Arthur Tappan donated the money for the fine, but Garrison had decided to leave Baltimore and he and Lundy amicably agreed to part ways.

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William Lloyd Garrison's Timeline

1805
December 10, 1805
Newburyport, Essex, Massachusetts, United States
1834
September 4, 1834
Age 28
1836
February 13, 1836
Age 30
Brooklyn Twp., Windham County, Connecticut
1838
January 19, 1838
Age 32
1840
June 4, 1840
Age 34
Cambridgeport, MA
1844
1844
Age 38
1879
May 24, 1879
Age 73
New York, New York, New York, United States
May 28, 1879
Age 73
Boston, Suffolk, Massachusetts, United States
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